I started this one off with the picture of Amsterdam. I follow a dozen Amsterdam Instagram accounts (love that city) and I save pictures to my reference file all the time.
The big juicy panel that takes up the lower 2/3 of this page was just begging for a nice city scape. The bench was empty in the reference photo, and it felt like an opportunity to drop in a character so I loosely roughed out a man sitting there.
"What's he doing?" I asked myself.
I gestured my hand fast and loose over the page, trying to find the eye-line. I dropped in just a few quick, sketchy lines to visualize the motion. I figured the first panel would be my guy on the bench, so the second panel should probably receive his gaze then send the viewer down the page. I slashed down a big, hooking line that at first looked like a question mark then-- as though it was answering itself-- revealed itself to be a swan. Naturally!
And that will lead us right down into the middle of the canal, where the swan will once again pick up our gaze and send us back to the guy, who is feeding it a piece of bread. There it is.
"But who is he?"
I still didn't know exactly who this guy was. At the moment, I had NXT playing in the background on Hulu. It's a great pro wrestling show, if you're into that sort of thing.
Lars Sullivan is one of my favorite characters on television right now, so I had to look up from my sketchbook when his eerie music hit. Then Maura Ranallo called him "a Jack Kirby illustration come to life!"
What a great description. I loved it the second I heard it, and I felt this unbridled artistic impulse to grab it and hold on to it, so that's what I did.
"If Lars Sullivan can be a 'Jack Kirby illustration come to life', then he can also be a Bo McGee illustration come to paper." I knew Lars was my guy feeding the swan immediately.
"And why's he feeding a swan on the canals of Amsterdam?"
Because he was drawn here by Aleister Black, naturally. Maybe Lars becomes obsessed with him, because he's a freak like Lars, but he's also different than Lars... it makes Lars feel like maybe he's not so freakish at all, but that doesn't comfort him. It makes him feel terrified. Because it's his freakishness that makes him superior to all of these lesser, normal men. They're all smaller than him and weaker than him and afraid of him. And if he's not a freak, then he is just one of them. And just like them, he is afraid of the freak. The freak is Aleister Black.
Lars is having an existential crisis.
So he came to A'dam because this is where Aleister is from. He wants to see the kiln where this man was forged, the womb from which he was birthed. It will help him to know the man better.
"Here in the Netherlands," he says to the swan, "I am Grendel, come to find my Beowulf." Then he tears a little chunk off of his sandwich and tosses it to the graceful bird.
That's it. Done, nailed it. I had no idea where I was going with that one. The whole story unfolded in my head while I was doodling in the SeqArt. That's the magnificent potential of the illustrated page.
This story came to life because of the triangulated panels. The three panels gave me a subliminal message and I followed it. First I found a setting, then I populated it with a character, then I gave that character someone to relate to, and then the story took on a life of itself. It kind of made me feel like God a little bit, and that was fun.
The name of this comic is "Lars Sullivan Feeds A Swan".
I hope you like it. I had a lot of fun drawing it and I'm looking forward to inking and coloring it soon. Sign up for my newsletter and you can watch it keep coming to life like a good comic does...